“WISDOM OF LIVING (13): COMPATIBLE?” By Pastor YAU
1 Peter 3:8-11
People today all recognize the importance of inter-personal skills, or put it in everyday language: getting along with people. This: “getting along with people” is so important to the success of your life, career, marriage and family, friendship and many other areas of life. One of the most difficulties in getting along with people is “compatible” or the lack of it we call “incompatible.”
The definition of “compatible” as in the Encyclopedic Dictionary is as following: agreeable, acceptable, accordant and coordinated. The word may be used in human relationship to furnishing, color, style, priorities, purposes, approaches and so on. When it is compatible, things will run smoothly, relationship will be cordial and sweet, environment looks present and people involved will feel good.
The Apostle Peter stressed the importance of “compatibility” as he wrote about people in Christian faith: citizens and the government, masters and servants, husbands and wives, the elderly and the younger. (1 Peter 2-5) Peter realized the facts of incompatibility between people and the possible harm or destruction it may cause. Therefore, he gave some very practical solutions we all may learn from: turning “incompatible” into “compatible.”
WHY ARE PEOPLE SO INCOMPATIBLE?
1) Because people are just different: Through the years in the ministry, dealing with all kinds of people, I can testify that “incompatibility” is an integral part of real life. More interestingly, people in close circles of life such as in marriage, co-workers, sibling in families and so on, are many time the most incompatible. They are different in personality, personal interest, likes and dislikes, political inclination, food, family background, education, ways of expression, values, goal of life, viewpoints and the list goes on and on. When we try to live or work or befriend with people, incompatibility is inevitable.
2) Because the world is a multi-cultural melting pot: Unlike the olden days, people seldom moved away from where they were born in their life time, people you meet today come from all over the world with different culture, values, tradition, religion and so on. They are genuinely different from you and what you hold to be dear. When you meet them at work, in school or at church and try to do things together, there will be differences and may be conflicts.
3) God did not created us as robots: Manufacturers of cars, bicycles or refrigerators make their products with modes and all come out from the same mode look the same, work the same function and be sold with the same price. But God did not make us that way. He has different purpose in each life He makes and equipped us with different elements for that purpose. God puts our differences together for a grand purpose as Paul states it in I Corinthians 12. We all have different contributions to offer to each for the common good as we work together.
HUMAN WAYS IN HANDLING INCOMPATIBILITY:
1) To ignore or segregate: That is the common way as they did in American society on racial issues years ago and some people still do it that way: we are different so we stay away from each other. Yes, this will avoid conflicts, but it will create suspicion, prejudice, tension, non-corporation and discrimination. This approach will certainly cut in to the strength, wisdom and possibility of achieving a higher or better goal. We will never learn from each other, never be able to appreciate each other, will never learn to work with different people: to accommodate, to be patient, to be mature and tolerant.
2) Getting angry: Many people can’t deal with incompatibility and get angry, upset and quit. They can’t take differences and learn from others to get things done. They are “my way or highway” people. They will carry the wounds for years still don’t know why people didn’t follow them.
3) Fight to win: This is the worst kind of team work. They will stay and fight to beat any opposition to win their way through. They will sacrifice the spirit of unity even to the point of hurting others to get their way done. We call them “dictatorial” kind of people.
The coach of a champion football team was asked of how he put all the compatible people together to form a winning team. His answer, as reported in the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, may shad us some light for us in dealing with incompatibility. “What counts most in creating a winning team,” he said, “is not how compatible the team members are, but how we deal with the incompatibility of each member.”
BIBLICAL WAYS IN HANDLING INCOMPATIBILITY:
1) Accept God’s wisdom: God has His purpose in placing you with different people in your environment. He wants you to learn and grow in humility, love, acceptance and patience. Through dealing with incompatible people, you will see your own flaws and shortcoming. You will grow in seeing the beauty of others and their strength.
2) Learn to see things from the point of view of incompatible people. They may have good reasons you never know before. You may grow in broadening your knowledge and perspectives by working with different people
3) Focus on the common goal and purpose. Do not place you as the center of your environment. Value the interest of the whole, be it you family, your work or church, as more important than yourself. Surrender your personal interest and pride for the well being of others. You will achieve more this way.
In the Scriptural reference quoted above, Peter encouraged people in the church to focus on harmony, be compassionate, to love, be humble and sympathetic, not repay evil with evil or insult with insult but to bless one another. No church will ever have conflicts if its members can put these into practice.
Dealing with incompatibility is also important in family life. People tend to forget their duties to those who are closest to them—at home. One little girl wrote a letter to God like this:
I bet it must be very hard for you to love all of everybody in the whole world.
There are four of us in our family, and I can never do that.” ---